Editorial, Editorial Comments

Gabe Devono——Transparency, Accountability, and Full Disclosure Or Business As Usual?

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County still staggers from the State’s surprise seizure of our school system.  Existing law prevented disbanding of our elected school Board, but the State used tactics to do it anyway.

Who was responsible for how Gilmer County was treated by the State? In America there is a concept that terminal responsibility for operations of bureaucratic organizations rests with top leadership. That suggests that actions following the State’s seizure of our schools resulted from the State Board of Education’s orders, carried out dutifully by the superintendent it installed.

The State Board is presided over by Mrs. Joseph Manchin.  Even Governor Tomblin and members of both houses of the WV Legislature lack control over that Board. The alternative explanation for what happened to us is that the State Board authorized the superintendent to act autonomously.  Either way, the State Board cannot escape responsibility for causing our grief.

Some of the State’s actions following its seizure of Gilmer County’s schools are addressed below. The purpose for providing the information is to enable citizens to make up their own minds regarding responsibility for what occurred in the County.

The Gilmer Free Press

► Strict information control was imposed immediately after the State’s seizure to make it difficult if not impossible for the County’s citizens to keep informed of the State’s activities with our school system. This information clamp established the State as an adversary, not a partner to work in tandem with the County for school system improvements.

► All our Board’s authority except responsibility for approving field trips and participating in disciplinary hearings was voided.

► Our Board members were not allowed to have items on monthly meeting agendas to enable important concerns to be discussed to prevent citizen access to information, and our Board was forbidden to make motions and to vote on important issues affecting our schools.

The Gilmer Free Press

► The State assumed absolute control over spending of the County’s school budget without any local oversight.

► Our Board was refused any say in personnel decisions including hiring, riffing, promotions and reassignments within the school system. Some decisions made by the State have potential for decades of ramifications.

► Secrecy was imposed by the State for its dealings with internal school issues including alleged improper behavior by a male teacher with a school boy. This secrecy eroded public confidence that decisive measures will be taken by the State to deal with serious problems and to help prevent similar ones in the future.

► The public hungers for leadership changes at the high school where there have been chronic problems.  The superintendent seems to protect the leadership to contribute to the public’s belief that the preferential treatment originates from personal allegiances instead of being committed to doing what is best for the County.

► Explanations to the County were withheld regarding why a principal was hired who worked less than one month to remain on the payroll for the full extent of a contract. This blunder resulted in taxpayers paying for the same job twice when another principal was assigned.

► The State allowed a no bid contract for the Cedar Creek School to a firm that had performed questionably with work at the Linn bi-county school.

► The State failed its oversight responsibility for proper planning to ensure that cheaper natural gas would be used for the Cedar Creek School and the Linn School. This failure did not result in a full disclosure of projected increased costs for taxpayers over the life time of the two schools.

► The architectural firm the State hired for the Cedar Creek School failed to get a required federal permit. That mistake caused the County to be denied State school building money for the 2013 funding cycle. This delay has potential for severe financial consequences for the County should there be an expensive facility expense at an elementary school before the new school is opened.

► The State failed its oversight responsibility to ensure that the site study for the Linn School was adequate to cause potential for a landslide to be undetected and a construction delay occurred when the slide occurred.

► There was failure for the County to be informed of how much money it might have to pay for the landslide to be fixed and to pay for a reported purchase of additional private land it affected. Even if Gilmer County does not have to pay, the costs will be borne some way by WV taxpayers unless the architect pays.

► There was failure to officially inform the County how much money will reportedly have to be spent to purchase additional land at the Cedar Creek site because of inadequate planning by the same architectural firm that performed work for the Linn School.

The Gilmer Free Press

► The State resisted in informing our Board precisely how much money it controls for the 2014-15 year versus the State under terms of a so-called partial restoration of the Board’s authority for finances. What is the valid reason?

► The State expected our Board to approve actions that had already happened and the State had permitted, as if they were future actions. That suggested to citizens that our Board had potential for legal vulnerability if it falsified official records with the State’s prompting.

► There has been refusal to have informative news releases to keep the County informed of decisions affecting our school system.  Additionally, this failure had a harmful effect on our County Board. When questions were asked by citizens, typical responses that followed were that the information was unavailable from the State. That type of response made it seem that our Board members were either slackers as elected officials or worse yet they knew answers while collaborating with the State to avoid transparency.

► The State claimed that the site chosen for the Cedar Creek School was the only one suitable within our 217,600 acre County.

► Citizens were not informed of fees paid to the architectural firm for the Linn and Cedar Creek schools for original plans for using natural gas and the change of plans for not using that energy source. This caused questions to be asked if the firm was paid twice for design work when it should have been done correctly the first time if proper up front planning had occurred.

► The State failed to disclose purchase agreement terms for the Cedar Creek School site although Dr. Phares, the WV State Superintendent of Schools, promised that it would be made available to the County.

► Citizens were angered to contribute to widening distrust of State government when word circulated that they must bear an unreasonable price the State secretly agreed to pay for the rural and undeveloped Cedar Creek School land.

The Gilmer Free Press

► The State participated in the process for the initial selection of the auction barn land for a new consolidated school while a member of the County’s Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan Committee had an immediate family member with potential for personal financial gain had a school been constructed at the site.

► The State failed to inform the County have many children will be sent to Lewis County to attend the Linn School and long term financial consequences for the County were not disclosed.

► There was failure by the State to document how much better our schools are now than they were when the State seized control. The prevailing belief, based on reports of the State’s shaky management history in counties with seized school systems is that for any progress that may have occurred here, our dedicated and competent school administrators, teachers, and support personnel deserve full credit, not the State.

► Citizens understand that the County’s reserve money will be used to build the new Cedar Creek School, but the State has withheld information for the potential financial impact of using that money intended to be available to respond to emergencies.

► When the State seizes control of a County’s schools   enormous sums of money are spent on building programs without any local checks and balances, and someone makes lots of money. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to trace the money trail in Gilmer County and elsewhere where school systems are State controlled?

Mr. Gabe Devono cannot reverse everything that happened in Gilmer County under State control, but he has a clear choice. He either continues with business as usual to proceed with the State’s pattern of conduct or demonstrates that he is a fair administrator who will treat the County with full respect and transparency. The answer will be known soon. The choice is up to the State Board of Education assuming that our future treatment depends on orders Gabe Devono receives from that appointed body. A welcomed new start would be for the State to solve its communications problems while dispelling harmful rumors that may not be fact based.


The Gilmer Free Press

Annual Linkage meetings have been completed for all schools in the county.  At those meetings Principals, LSIC members, Teachers and Students presented the state of the state of Gilmer County Schools before the Board of Education and the public.

The Students are to be congratulated.  Each presenter was articulate, knowledgeable and captured the audience attention.  Did you know we have aspiring artists, journalists, rocket scientists, meteorologists, broadcasters, documentary film producers, story tellers and homemakers in Gilmer County? That we do and so much more to be very proud of.

The Teachers must receive credit for encouraging those young minds and letting them know that they can dream and achieve.  Both tenured and new are striving to make our schools a better place.  Are we working to support them?  That needs to be a question in the forefront when it comes to educating the children.  Teaching professionals need to know that their hard work is appreciated. With the introduction of new curriculum known as Common Core the task ahead will not get any easier.  We need and must support good Teachers.

Community attendance and interest was very evident at the Sand Fork, Troy and Normantown Elementary meetings. They were upbeat and positive as Principals spoke about their schools future goals and how fun the past year had been.  Unfortunately the numbers were very low at the two Glenville school meetings.  Is this indicative of a pocket of apathy or perhaps bad timing? Hope public participation improves next year.

It was disturbing that behavioral problems including high numbers of reported physical assaults were an issue reported at Glenville Elementary.  The Principal emphasized a need for an elementary alternative learning center to handle problems. One expulsion was documented.  There was also one reported at Troy.  However the Principal at Troy said they use a room across from the office as their alternative area to separate a problem child, get them refocused and prepared for return to the group setting. That is a proactive response geared to keeping a child in trouble within a peer setting that should be applauded. Gilmer County schools are not overstaffed.  It takes caring and quick thinking using the resources at hand to get it done.

Most are aware of incidents at the High School over the past year. The presentation was well done and very informative.  Incidents of discipline numbers decreased from the prior year but included documentation of 3 expulsions.  A local mother who will have a child entering High School next school year expressed serious concern and wanted to know what was being done about the bullying, bomb threats and drug busts.  She reported that State Police said there had been an arrest. This was confirmed by the Principal who stated there were others under investigation but it was an ongoing Police matter and could not be discussed.

The Gilmer Free Press

The Vice Principal and the State Superintendent voiced the opinion that these things happen at every school and went on to say that many times the first thing they hear of a problem is when the parent calls wanting something done about it.  Administrators were in agreement that Parents not taking enough responsibility for their child’s behavior was a contributing factor to the problems here. The Mother reminded them she could not be concerned about other schools, just the one her child attended and demanded to know what was being done. Then members of the Board Of Education spoke up, saying they had no knowledge of any expulsions in Gilmer County. Expulsion indicates total removal of a child from the school system and of those brought before the board this year none had been expelled. It was asked why they were not using the alternative learning experience at the Career Center rather than expel. The senior member stated “We do not throw our children away.” Shortly thereafter the meeting was adjourned.

Since there was no administrative explanation, no denial, the question remains who approved the expulsion of Gilmer County Children? Who is in charge?  By WV Code and advisement of the State BOE that is a function of the local board even under intervention..  No child is to be suspended beyond 10 days without being brought before the local board for hearing either in executive session or open public meeting as decided by their parent or legal guardian and may have an attorney present. They are entitled to due process under the law, not to be pushed around at the state’s discretion.‘’

To that end Parents must join together and stay involved guaranteeing not a single Gilmer County child will be tossed to the side. No one can do that but you.  Expulsion is a very serious matter that can set the tone for the rest of life.  It should be used only as a last resort. Nothing can be done to avoid it, no assistance provided when events are cloaked in secrecy.  Apparently you must insist upon being informed.  Information will not be offered. Attendance at all school meetings must become a priority.

State BOE, do not take arbitrary action behind closed doors. When it comes to how you treat the children here there can be no secret acts.  Protect the student name if the family wishes but follow your own rules and state laws.  Follow educated and well thought out procedures.  Do this for the only reason you exist,  Do this for the good of the children. Expulsion must not become a routine punishment. It solves no problems.  It shoves students in trouble out of the door, away from possible help and into a world they are obviously not prepared for. Gilmer County doesn’t give up on its children.

~~  The Gilmer Free Press ~~

Has Dr. Marple’s State Department of Education (DOE) Corrected Audit Deficiencies at The GCHS?

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County has wide support for an exit plan to be followed by Dr. Marple’s WVDOE to correct our school system’s deficiencies.

Adherence to a comprehensive, clearly understood plan would help ensure a more timely and efficient restoration of our schools to local control.

Under existing conditions the State has absolute authority to do as it pleases without any restrictions on when it gets done or how much it may cost.

If anyone questions need for an exit plan, Google WV OEPA and search the archives to access the State’s audit report for the County.

Interested citizens who have read the report have complained about its excessive ambiguity.

That communication failure by the State prevents citizens from being informed of specific remedial tasks which must be completed prior to restoration of our schools to local control.

Considering that most of the County’s students are enrolled at the GCHS it is assumed that a major proportion of the school system’s deficiencies were associated with that school’s administrative failures.

If the reasoning is valid, the State’s top priority should have been swift correction of the school’s deficiencies.

Samples of the deficiencies as understood from the State’s audit report are addressed below.

•  There were hiring practice failures including use of erroneous or incomplete matrices required for comparing qualifications of applicants when new employees were hired, and there was nonuse of a seven point matrix, as required by the State, to document and compare qualifications of all applicants to promote merit-based hiring. For one posted position there were 12 applicants, and comparative qualifications information was compiled for only two of them.

•  Incorrect job posting occurred for vacancies and this lack of adherence to the State’s requirements had potential to have prevented some qualified applicants from applying.

•  There were teacher qualification deficiencies for Spanish, French, physics, chemistry, English, algebra, applied math, human anatomy, and journalism.

•  Annual personnel evaluations as required by the State had not occurred.

•  There were numerous administrative deficiencies involving coaches. These included hiring without fulfillment of legally required background checks, improper authorization of an explained nature, expired authorization, lack of performance evaluations, and failure to define responsibilities for vacancies to hinder compliance with required job descriptions.

Could the referenced deficiencies and others at the GCHS, as reported by the State, have occurred if its principal had performed satisfactorily?

Also, is it reasonable to conclude that serious administrative failures at the high school contributed heavily to the State’s decision to takeover our school system?

It would be informative to know what kind of performance evaluation was received by GCHS’s principal after deficiencies in the State’s audit report were reported.

Also, when the principal was evaluated, did Mr. Ron Blankenship make constructive recommendations for an improved job performance?

Perhaps Dr. W. K. Simmons could report on the status of performance evaluation concerns.

Because of the right for the County’s citizens to have access to accurate information, Dr. Marple should report on specific progress, if any, in eliminating deficiencies at the GCHS in addition to other school system deficiencies addressed in the State’s audit report.

To promote fairness and accuracy, if there are misinterpretations of information in the State’s audit report as referenced in this posting, Dr. Jorea Marple and Mr. Ron Blankenship are invited to submit corrections to the Gilmer Free Press.

State-Wide Support Spreads For Gilmer County’s Battle With Dr. Marple’s Run Amuck DOE

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County, citizens throughout West Virginia support your struggle against the politically motivated surprise seizure of your schools by the DOE.

Your supporters know that the DOE’s unprovoked attack set a precedent of not giving your elected Board of Education time to address alleged problems within a prescribed time prior to a seizure.

The outcome of your struggle is critical with important implications for what will be done to get the State’s failed K-12 education system off its 48th place among the 50 states.

Unfortunately, the Charleston Gazette and other major hard copy newspapers have avoided stories about Gilmer County’s school system plight.

That pattern of neglect is being mitigated electronically with use of cell phones, e-mail, iPADs, Droids, Face Book, and iPhones.

Part of the State-wide citizen backed electronic offensive involves establishment of information dispensing nodes in various counties with an expanding network.

The message includes exposure of roles of Senator Joe Manchin’s family in contributing to the DOE’s dictatorial actions.

The Gilmer Free Press      The Gilmer Free Press

While governor, Senator Manchin demonstrated nepotism by appointing his wife Gayle to a $65,000 a year position with the State Board of Education that oversees the DOE.

She vehemently supported the seizure of your schools as proven by her videotaped attack against Gilmer County when the DOE intervened.

Her display of disdain for Gilmer County will be posted on U-Tube soon for all West Virginians to observe. Also, citizens will be reminded of WVU’s free degree scandal involving Senator Manchin’s daughter while he was Governor.

In addition to using electronic media as a force multiplier to increase the public’s demand for revamping Dr. Marple’s failed DOE, West Virginians are participating in forums in eight cities and the gatherings are sponsored by West Virginia’s Vision Shared organization.

The purpose of the forums is to obtain suggestions from citizens for critically needed changes to reverse the DOE’s failed performance including its arbitrary practices in seizing and administering county school systems.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin deserves respect from West Virginians for his courageous leadership in initiating the forums.

Negative publicity regarding the DOE’s ineptness in managing the State’s K-12 school system has caused more unwanted national ridicule to be focused on us, and much worse, the severe disaster has denied West Virginia’s children quality educations to enable them to compete better in today’s world economy.

The information blitz, designed to forge badly needed change with how the DOE operates, will empower voters to make wiser decisions at the polls in November.

Overall, the grass roots effort is a 21st century version of the axiom that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Instead of hard copy print inking out messages to West Virginians, electrons are getting that task achieved speedily with laser-like targeting.

Similar to the Revolutionary War naval hero, John Paul Jones, we have just begun to fight and it will continue with bulldog tenacity to achieve badly needed K-12 education reforms in Gilmer County and throughout our State.

CommunityAlert: Blankenship’s Advocacy for Purchase of Arbuckle Trust Land for Consolidated School

The Gilmer Free Press

I would like to thank Mr. Blankenship for allowing me to attend this meeting. – G. Dave Ramezan, The Gilmer Free Press

A CEFP meeting was conducted the evening of Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM in Gilmer County Schools Central Office at which purchasing of 73.9 acres of Arbuckle trust land on U.S. Hwy 33W/119S of Glenville, WV (on top of Glenville Hill about Auction Barn) for a new consolidated Gilmer Elementary School was discussed.

Mr. Ron Blankenship, the State appointed superintendent of Gilmer County schools, adamantly championed purchase of the land.

His position was counter to the points that:

A) There is inadequate proof that construction of a new consolidated grade school at the Arbuckle site is the best option for the County,

B) A thorough evaluation was not made to objectively choose a broader set of candidate sites from which to choose for a new school,

C) There is underrepresentation of citizens on the controversial CEFP committee involved in making the Arbuckle land purchase decision, and

D) There is no guarantee that if Arbuckle land was purchased by the County that the State would fund construction of a new school.

Supportive Arguments For Four Previously Listed Points:

Point A: With the foregone conclusion that the Lewis-Gilmer Elementary School will be constructed and Gilmer County children from that edge of the County, and reportedly children from the Sand Fork area will be bused to that school, if we need a new consolidated school we must evaluate where it should be located.

Point B: It is questionable to conclude with blind faith that the Arbuckle trust land is the best site for a new school when there are countless other sites available for consideration.  Any school child could use Google Earth to “fly” over the County to locate potential sites for a grade school. Mr. Blankenship rationalizes that a 70+ acre site is necessary for the eventual construction of three schools. How can he justify that conclusion given the County’s continual loss of population caused by our chronic lack of livable wage jobs? Then too, Mr. Blankenship justifies that use of eminent domain can be avoided if Arbuckle land is purchased.  Is that a good enough reason to purchase that land when the eminent domain provision is always a legal option when a development is in the best interests of the public?  Besides, it is understood that the appraised value of the Arbuckle land is $1,000 an acre (based on appraisal by a commercial property appraiser chosen by Mr. Blankenship after declaring the property commercial) but Mr. Blankenship settles for $1,400. Why, as a public servant, does he want to spend the public’s money that way when there may be a host of land owners willing to sell suitable land more reasonably for a new school or to even donate it for a worthy cause?

Point C:  It was reported that there was inter-personal strife among original CEFP committee members and a number of them elected not to participate leaving a small group behind to recommend land to purchase. Is it not true that two of the voting members in that remaining group had a vested interest in the Linn and Arbuckle sites because purchases would garner personal family gain?  In this regard, is it not factual that Mr. R. Terry Butcher, a local attorney and a partner of the Butcher and Butcher Law Firm, is one of two trustees for the Arbuckle trust and if that land were to be purchased he and his family would gain financially?

Point D: Mr. Blankenship proposes to use $115,000 of the County’s 1.2 million dollars of reserve money (Money saved for OPEB liability by Gilmer County Board of Education before takeover) to purchase the Arbuckle land (He noted since the state is going to take care of the OPEB liability, the money is no longer needed and can be used. He is also using this money to pay for 1/2 of over $300,000 for the 20 acres land being purchased for inter-county school. He mentioned the deed for this property should be ready to sign real soon). What if the State refuses to provide funding if the site is purchased? Is it likely that with the way the State takeover occurred with the ugly head of politics and under- the- table dealings, that Gilmer County citizens would ever pass a bond issue to fund a new school on the Arbuckle land? The worst case scenario would be for it to be purchased to remain idle off our tax rolls. Additionally, with existence of the County’s 1.2 million dollars of cash reserves, why would it not be wise to use some of it to shore up our existing schools until a professionally done, comprehensive plan could be formulated for ways to establish a truly superior K-12 school system in the County?  Then too, why is some of the reserve money not being used to hire a badly needed 5th grade teacher at Normantown and Troy that Mr. Blankenship promised citizens he would look into?

There were twelve(12) CEFP committee attendees at the meeting, and those seemingly in favor of the Arbuckle land purchase are indicated with a (+) mark after their names, ones seemed to be uncertain are marked with (+/-), those with no opinion (~), and those seemingly not in favor have a (–) entry (according to this reporter’s consensus and view in the meeting).

•  Ron Blankenship +

•  Dave Bishop +

•  Toni Bishop +/-

•  Nancy McVaney +/-

•  Sue Morris –

•  Nasia Butcher +

•  Betty Anderson +

•  Joe Frasure +

•  Martha Hicks +

•  John Bennett –

•  Connie Frame +

•  Connor Ferguson   ~

Of the twelve(12) CEFP members in attendance, eight(8) were current school system employees over whom Ron Blankenship exercised power, there was one(1) business person, two(2)  former school system employees, and one(1) school system student to comprise an underrepresented community’s profile.

However, a formal vote was not taken and Mr. Blankenship seemed to signal that without the authority of a majority vote to authorize the land purchase, he may make a decision unilaterally.  Also, he stipulated that if the land is purchased it must be done by July 12, 2012.

Regarding Sue Morris’s position, in all fairness to the widely admired philanthropist, she noted the land was not worth the price. She said the land has not done anything for past 20 years and will not do anything for the next 20 either. She also cited her husband as always saying that the land purchase was the best investment but again this land was too expensive and was not worth the price Mr. Blankenship wanted to pay. She also noted the county should not just spend the money because it is there. She said the money can be used for other functions.

The land on WV Hwy 5 W was noted as out of question because part of it is in the flood plain. With another on Camden Flats, Mr. Blankenship did not want to practice eminent domain. Finally, as a last option, the property across from the Auction Barn (Furr – McCartney) was mentioned citing not enough space.

Mr. Blankenship was not able to see a feasible land on one of his trips from Glenville to Normantown except in the Letter Gap area which he said was not big enough.

Finally, the CEFP Committee agreed to re-submit the application for the Gilmer Elementary School on Arbuckle property on November 01, 2012 to be decided by the SBA on April of 2013.

This quagmire leaves us with the question—of Gilmer County citizens how do we react?

Do we stand up united for ourselves and our children to stop this travesty or do we let the “elites” continue to exercise their absolute control?

The outcome is up to us, and fellow citizens throughout West Virginia are watching.

Mr. Heinlein From The WV Department Of Education Briefed Gilmer’s Citizens About School Takeover


Mr. Charles Heinlein From The WV Department Of Education Briefed Gilmer’s Citizens About School Takeover

On April 26, 2012 Mr. Charles Heinlein, Dr. Jorea Marple’s deputy, attended a meeting sponsored by the Gilmer Schools Coalition.

He addressed the State’s takeover of our schools, but he forcefully refused to elaborate on justifications for the takeover.

There was clarity that like it or not the State has control.

Also, Mr. Heinlein stated that our duly elected school board was rendered essentially powerless by the State’s decree and Mr. Blankenship represents the State.

The consequence is that normal checks and balances, essential elements for survival of a democracy, are suspended at the County level.


The Board’s authority to deal with issues including personnel actions, school facilities, finances, and other functions with the exception of responsibilities involving student discipline, expulsions and school trips were summarily removed.

Mr. Heinlein did not disclose the time line for returning the school system to local control or specifics regarding exactly how the Board can remove its deficiencies.

Other notable omissions included a failure of Mr. Heinlein to define specifics about how the State would work with the Board to provide needed services from Charleston to enable the Board’s authority to be restored expeditiously.

Numerous questions and concerns surfaced at the meeting.

The focus was opinions about the State’s failures including problems with honesty, deliberate avoidance of transparency, behind the scenes activity of a select few leading to the takeover, the State’s failure to give the County a chance to solve its problems prior to a takeover as was done for other counties, and the State’s deliberate blockage of information to keep citizens uninformed while secret takeover activities were underway.


One citizen asked Mr. Heinlein to cite one example of what Mr. Ron Blankenship had done during his tenure to be something which would not have been done otherwise and the question was unanswered.

There seemed to be a pervasive feeling among meeting attendees that what was cited as the State’s justification for taking over our school system was pure camouflage.

It was expressed that true reasons probably dealt with a long-term plan to consolidate counties.

That would result in regionalized court houses, law enforcement, K-12 schools, and other functions normal for a sovereign county.

The question is what can we do about our plight?

Our elected officials failed us miserably and our recourse as responsible citizens is to take decisive action at the ballot box.

Instead of complying with demands of the bosses for how we should vote, we can judge candidates on their proven ability, honesty, commitments to transparency, and their firm pledge to keep lines of communication open to prevent future deal making behind closed doors.

G-Editorial™: Challenge to Candidates for Gilmer County Magistrate - 2012 - Update


Update: 02.24.12

Due to request of so many of The Gilmer Free Press readers we have obtained the documents from the Gilmer County Clerk’s office under an FOIA request.

We like to thank Jean Butcher, the Gilmer County Clerk and Gerry Hough, the Gilmer County Prosecutor for FINALLY complying with the FOIA request.

Below you can see the complete documents.

To our reader : Thank you for your patience.

The Gilmer Free Press


Chapter 50, Article 1, Section 4 of the West Virginia Code of Law specifies that, “each magistrate ... shall have a high school education or its equivalent.“

Questions have arisen as to whether all candidates that have filed for this office in Gilmer County meet the educational requirements provided by statute.

Therefore, in an effort to put the matter to rest and provide the voting public with documentation that all candidates for this position are indeed qualified to hold the post, we asked all candidates for Magistrate to submit to us proof that they meet the educational requirements of this position.

Following is the Result (in order received):

Carol Wolfe – Thank You

Click to See Document 1

Click to See Document 2

Click to See Document 3

Lori Rosenburg – Thank You

Click to See Document 1

Click to See Document 2

Alton Skinner – Thank You

Click to See Document

Bill Stalnaker – Thank You

Click to See Document

Mickey Metz – Did Not Provide Proof

Mr. Metz provided his proof to Gilmer Free Press after our last publication of this challenge. Due to his request not to publish it we did not do so and honor his request.

Following is the proof of education obtained under FOIA from Gilmer County Clerk’s Office which is public information:

Click to See the Document Obtain under FOIA Request


Again, we like to thank the candidates who provided their proof of eligibility for the office of Magistrate.

The Gilmer Free Press

G-Editorial™: Challenge to Candidates for Gilmer County Magistrate - 2012 - Result


Chapter 50, Article 1, Section 4 of the West Virginia Code of Law specifies that, “each magistrate ... shall have a high school education or its equivalent.“

Questions have arisen as to whether all candidates that have filed for this office in Gilmer County meet the educational requirements provided by statute.

Therefore, in an effort to put the matter to rest and provide the voting public with documentation that all candidates for this position are indeed qualified to hold the post, we asked all candidates for Magistrate to submit to us proof that they meet the educational requirements of this position.

Following is the Result (in order received):

Carol Wolfe – Thank You

Click to See Document 1

Click to See Document 2

Click to See Document 3

Lori Rosenburg – Thank You

Click to See Document 1

Click to See Document 2

Alton Skinner – Thank You

Click to See Document

Bill Stalnaker – Thank You

Click to See Document

Mickey Metz – Did Not Provide Proof


Again, we like to thank the candidates who provided their proof of eligibility for the office of Magistrate.

The Gilmer Free Press

G-Editorial™: Challenge to Candidates for Gilmer County Magistrate - 2012


Update: 02.06.12
We have received the proof of education from few candidates. For those you who have not supplied us with the proof please do so. The proofs will be published by the end of this week.


Chapter 50, Article 1, Section 4 of the West Virginia Code of Law specifies that, “each magistrate ... shall have a high school education or its equivalent.“

Questions have arisen as to whether all candidates that have filed for this office in Gilmer County meet the educational requirements provided by statute. We have been informed that the office of the Gilmer County Clerk has asked candidates to show proof that they meet the qualifications to assume this position, but that she is not sharing that information with the public.

Therefore, in an effort to put the matter to rest and provide the voting public with documentation that all candidates for this position are indeed qualified to hold the post, we are asking all candidates for Magistrate to submit to us proof that they meet the educational requirements of this position.

This can be done by submitting us a photo copy of diploma(s) earned, completed GED certificate to “”, or

By bringing the same to our office at 207 N. Lewis Street, Glenville, WV so that we can copy the documents to share with our readers.

Thank you,

The Gilmer Free Press



Gilmer County voters will be electing two magistrates and have two votes.

Current Magistrate Robert Minigh has chosen not to seek reelection. Incumbent and Democrat, Carol Wolfe is seeking reelection. Other candidates for Magistrate include Mickey Metz, Democrat; Alton Skinner III, Democrat; Bill Stalnaker, Democrat; and Lori Rosenburg, Republican.

As the May 08, 2012 election is the Primary Election, voters will be choosing their party nominees to be on the November General Election Ballot. As Rosenberg is the only Republican running, she will automatically be on the November ballot as an official candidate of her party. Democrats will choose between Wolfe, Metz, Skinner, and Stalnaker for the two nominees of their party to be on the November Ballot.

G-Editorial™: Demonstration of Courage and Leadership


Occasionally, actions of elected officials merit profound praise, admiration, and respect.

Democratically elected officials consisting of Skinner, Starkey, and Pritt [1] earned that distinction.

They pleaded for federal intervention to investigate inequities associated with the State’s unjustified seizure of our schools [2].

They did not waiver because their authority was stripped by the State, and they certainly did not succumb to biddings of the County’s rich and powerful.

Instead, as highly principled officials they took the moral high road.

After the State’s surprise seizure of our schools we know that justifications were fabricated to serve interests of a minority in the County who curried favor with Charleston’s politicians.

What is the evidence?

Ask yourselves what tangible changes have occurred after the State’s seizure to prove that our children will receive better educations, our school facilities are safer, our children will get better protection in a more nurturing learning environment, and taxpayers will get the most for their investments?

After considering facts, how is it possible to answer with anything other than a strident NO!

Citizens are not even given progress reports or plans for the future by Blankenship [3] or Marple [4].

The two individuals also refuse to disclose criteria they will apply in determining when to return the school system to local control.

The evidence supports the belief that State officials in control consider Gilmer County’s citizens unworthy of respectful treatment.

It is especially disturbing that Blankenship and Marple have been silent about the scandal involving allegations of a Gilmer County High School teacher’s improper behavior with an innocent child [5].

What do they intend to do about that?

Their stone cold silence suggests that they simply do not care.

It is unknown what action federal authorities may take in response to the plea from the three school board members.

Regardless of what happens we, the citizens of Gilmer County must band together to fight tirelessly for the welfare and safety of our children.

With involvement of Skinner, Pritt, and Starkey, and Gilmer Schools Coalition (GSC) we have a better chance to make our voices heard to help forge better lives for our children.

The children know about problems with the school system and they wait with wide open eyes to observe what we, the adults will do.

To remain passive is an unviable option and our unified action is the obvious choice.

Gilmer County has suffered from bondage too long by the rich and powerful and through focused unity we can reverse the repression by being assertive for our self- interests and far more importantly those of vulnerable children.

[1] Gilmer County Democratically Elected Board of Education: Pritt – President, Skinner – Member, Starkey – Member.

[2] State’s unjustified seizure of our schools video

[3] Ronlad Blankenship: Gilmer County Schools Superintendent – appointed by WVDE

[4] Jorea M. Marple – WV Superintendent of Schools

[5] Printable arrest warrent for GCHS teacher

G-Editorial™: Bullies at Administrative Level in Our Schools


Any Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools should take bullying seriously these days by developing prevention activities and dealing with issues quickly and with certainty with those who cross the line regardless of who they are.

But what if the bully is the administrator?

Administrators are supposed to be role models and their behavior affects the entire school. Most of our local administrators take that responsibility seriously and their behavior is exemplary. However, a few believe they can get their way by publicly challenging, verbally abusing or even threatening their colleagues, staff, prior superintendent, future superintendents, and the local board of education.

While some bullies may be physically threatening, size or gender doesn’t make a difference.

Administrative bullies make life miserable for the teachers and staff. They insult staff and teachers and seem to be in attack mode all the time. They ensure the community will have little respect for the entire school system.

As a teacher, staff, or parent we can be in for a rough time when a bully administrator is present. But when that administrator’s behavior affects teachers and staff’s ability to do their job and undermines faculty morale, the board of education and the superintendent need to take action.

Isn’t it time for the state board of education (since they made the local board powerless) along with their superintendent to call the errant administrator and tell him or her about the issues affecting teacher’s and staff’s ability to lead? Shouldn’t there be repercussions of the errant behavior? How long are we willing to let it go?

On several issues, some administrator bully’s behavior has stepped over the line legally. How long are the state appointed superintendent and the entire state board going to ignore the legal implications of such behavior?

Too often, the state board’s silence can give the mistaken impression that the state board is condoning the behavior. That should not be allowed to happen. The state board can affirm a code of ethics, develop ground rules, and publicly state that administrative bullying is not acceptable in our county.

The community often judges the school system by the actions of the board of education (in Gilmer County’s case the state board since they removed the power from local board), so a poorly performing board telegraphs a negative image to the rest of the community.

Besides hurting the schools in the public eye, it also undermines the board’s credibility with teachers, staff, parents, and if allowed to go unchecked, can have a negative impact on the children in our schools.

The West Virginia Board of Education needs to deal with it as quickly and effectively as possible.



The most recent high school scandal emphasizes need for a new approach to apply to correct our school system crisis.

It is futile to expect Ron Blankenship to aid us.

He seems oblivious to need to correct serious problems, he has not issued a strict no-tolerance policy for employee misconduct, and our democratically elected school board officials can’t act because the State striped away their powers without any guideline and expectation to meet to reverse their roll.

What can we do?

Our situation is not dissimilar to that of a third world country subjected to repression by a clique.

In those countries there is a succession of citizen behavior and eventually positive changes occur.

The sequence of events is initiated by a long period of repression with mass discontent followed by a second stage when citizens begin voicing open opposition.

As conditions worsen a strong leader eventually emerges to bond citizens together as a cohesive counter force to alter history.

We are at the stage in Gilmer County when we need that strong leader.

Why not form a parent and teacher organization to counter what has happened to us and to install a leader to spearhead our cause?

He or she could take our battle to Charleston and to engage assistance from federal agencies with authority to aid us.

Those of us in the majority who loathe what is occurring in our school system are superior in numbers compared to the opposition, we have the moral high ground, and through organizing with an effective leader we would prevail.

Continuing with our disorganized mode in responding to the crisis would please those unreceptive to our pleas for better educations for our children.

G-Editorial™: OEPA REPORT and the True Facts! Hough’s Ad in Democrat Was NOT FACTUAL


The OEPA report is representative of and demonstrates the facts involving what Ramco Technologies tried for 3-years to communicate to the Board—and further went to great efforts to convince the Superintendent that his decisions were WRONG!

John Bennett allowed those who know NOTHING about technology to make decisions and destroy what progress was made with the little money available to keep the technology up to date.

Ramco Technologies, although asked by the board, to bid for the contract REFUSED TO BID, unless the conditions leading to the destruction of technology infrastructure were corrected.  RAMCO was not interested in any contract that would simply throw good money away on mediocre technology.



Ramco Technologies DID NOT BID, because a key factor was that there was a lack of LEADERSHIP in the system to make good technology decisions.

The track record for bad decisions involving technology in the school system was long and sad.

Ramco Technologies had performed technology service involving computer systems, networks, electronics, training, and more for about 20 years with the annual payment ranging from $9,600 to $26,000.

Ramco Technologies provided full service 24/7/365. This full service provided was done WITHOUT any other compensation for tools, test equipment, computers/laptop, mileage for travel, insurance, medical benefits, and retirement benefits.

Despite these hardships, Ramco Technologies guaranteed the service and work.

Ramco Technologies often purchased needed software at its own expense to maintain and upkeep the system. Ramco DONATED labor, hardware, software, operation expenses –that included numerous benefits provided to the school board.

Ramco technologies performed these needed functions for the good of the community since Ramco technologies is a local business, with family that are from and reside in the community.

Ramco Technologies often installed needed parts without any charge as part of the contract not because it had to, but rather out of a service to the community – Board Members and some Principals can testify to this.

Ramco Technologies fixed equipment and maintained a 99.99% up-keep. If anything was down at any time, it was because Ramco was not told about it.

But that changed because a few administrators who knew nothing about technology and the system, decided they knew it all.

This led to many miscommunications during this service, due to missed communications between management or among board members and school authorities.

During the bidding process, the board and superintendent did not want to change the conditions that led to the technology disaster and told RAMCO TECHNOLOGIES it could not bid more than $25,000 because that was all they could afford. Since Ramco had performed well with track record –with out of pocket service, this act by the board and the superintendent was certainly uncalled for and unbecoming of proper standards in good business relations.

However, at the same time, the superintendent asked the board to approve bids of $28,000 plus—- for 20-hours and/or 4-days a week service, to others who had no previous performance history or who earned top standards of good up-keep and exemplary service with updated products.  Computer systems in modern times need periodic updates, and qualification and dedication is a significant factor when considering outside service.

Fortunately, the board did not act on these less experienced contractors or approve the bids – mostly for the reason of prior negative experiences or bad track records of those specific vendors recommended by the superintendent.

Unfortunately, the reasons for Ramco NOT BIDDING, involved the refusal of the Superintendent to properly address the technology concerns, in which he cited lack of knowledge in that area.

Further, the Superintendent refused to follow the Boards instruction multiple times, and suggested the hiring of outside contractors to perform those duties!!


This suggestion was puzzling given the fact there were many more qualified people in the community. The Superintendent suggested hiring a person who first had to be trained for a near $50,000 yearly salary—- which was far above the original budget, and then acted on that decision with little or no explanation!

This NEW DEAL, previously not announced or advertised included ALL the benefits that further included dental, eye-care, and retirement.

The salary with the job description made for a 40-hour a week, about 225 days a year and NO Guarantee of the work, but surprisingly included a hefty expense package for local travel and equipment needed to repair.


People of Gilmer County should know that Ramco Technologies always FIXED the problems according to teachers’ and staff’s needs. But now, according to the Superintendent himself, two Board Members, many teachers and staff, the solution to every problem is to either erase the systems or replace them, which has proven to be counter-productive to all the years and all the expense involved to keep the current system functioning at a satisfactory level.

Some of the Teachers’ computers have been erased without the teachers’ knowledge and often teachers have lost data they had, some for up to 7-years. This type of damage and loss of data should never occur, but it is simply par for the course now!

Many Systems are sitting around for months not fixed, or installed. If a teacher really complains, the technology director stops the legitimate complaint by saying:

“Don’t worry, we will get you a new one, we have money!”

This quote had been verified by several staff members and teachers who still contact Ramco Technologies for assistance and wish they had the Ramco service once more since the service was reliable and above normal standards.


In the OEPA report, the reference to Ramco could be somewhat mis-leading.

Ramco technologies provided invoices for the work performed without a contract and the invoices were given to the superintendent in a timely manner.

The superintendent did not act on the invoice for weeks and months at a time, and then reported them lost.

And then they were found!

It was a continuous merry-go-round of delay tactics orchestrated by none-other than the technology director, and was allowed to continue by the Superintendent!

All invoices provided by Ramco had full details, but apparently the purchase order created improperly afterwards must not have.

The entire matter was extremely unprofessional, costly and time consuming and amounted to a complete business disaster if one was desirous of making any kind of profit for which there was none!

All of this hardship for Ramco Technologies occurred at a time when the superintendent, technology director, and a principal kept presenting vague questionable invoices without any details and no-bid contracts citing lack of time and loss of funds (by design) if the board did not act upon important matters, and the list goes on.


The School Board often asked questions, but got a typical…

“I am not sure, I will check on it,” answer from the superintendent or blamed a secretary.

Nonetheless, the Board always approved the questionable purchases.


Now to Our Gilmer County Prosecutor:


Did Gerald B Hough do his Research and obtain CORRECT information?

Hough, according to his ad in the Glenville Democrat, has revealed his racist, slanderous, and libelous side.  A side that a prosecutor cannot afford to have.

Hough complains about citizens abusing free speech from one side of his mouth while he actually commits acts of racial hatred making Hough the very definition of a hypocrite!

Gerry Hough, with a Bible under his arm, offered $1 for one third of a landowner’s property, and then threatened that person with eminent domain without the knowledge of the Gilmer County PSD,—while he himself collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money for a piece of trashy property at the slip in hays city in Glenville. (Just ask Mr. R. Terry Butcher, Thrasher Engineers, and The Gilmer county PSD).

Hough allows the needy to live in trashy filthy places, while collecting hefty rents from HUD!  In addition to what HUD pays him for rent, he demands additional rent from the impoverished renter.  Should Mr. Hough add the title “Slum Lord” to his resume?

Hough created a fake invoice for $16,000 in a matter of 15 minutes for the purpose of ILLEGALLY overcharging a local business for work done without justification for his client – and then practicing private law, while getting paid to be a prosecutor, which is a clear conflict of interest and Hough needs to be reported to office of disciplinary Counsel. (Just ask Mr. R Terry Butcher).

HOUGH was not prepared in a breaking and entering case after the Gilmer County Sheriff Deputy gave him the list of about $10,000 worth of damage, and then by the victim when he asked for it again because he lost the first one – and then, after all that – the list was dismissed because HOUGH forgot to present it properly to the court.

Hough thought there was a lot money to be made in the internet business and decided to go against Ramco Technologies by deceiving friends into contributing a lot of money without a proper business plan or the knowledge in that field, and then embark on a business venture without doing any proper research on the matter and the knowledge necessary.

Hough brought in an inexperienced, uneducated business partner without any knowledge or prior experience in the field; all because he saw an employee at Ramco had purchased a sports car and said there is money to be made and I got to have it. Now how ridiculous is all that?

Gerald B Hough called me a terrorist and member of Al-Qaeda, and then communicated this to a Gilmer County Magistrate and the previous magistrate secretary when he discovered we had purchased our farm.

Hough could not make any money in the internet business because of his lack of knowledge and business savvy, so he figured if he could not do it, no one could, and I must be getting help from Osama Bin Laden himself in order to buy a farm in Gilmer County.

Gerry Hough wanted all the success for himself. If he wanted the technology contract he could have merely underbid the competitor, but that was not profitable enough.  He chose a more sordid path by attempting to destroy the competitor’s business reputation. Hough and business partner pressured the BOE to give them the contract, but at the time, the board did not have to bid it out.

People in general may be able to get away with saying what they like whether it be racist or not, but a prosecutor does not have that luxury, nor should he.

People who express legitimate concerns or question actions of public officials are labeled “terrorists” by Hough.

In modern day AMERICA, this insulting and racist action by Hough as a prosecuting attorney is despicable!

Hough abuses his position as prosecutor and often acts illegally with NO CONSIDERATION for the law, and then scares and terrorizes people with the threat of jail.

Hough has yet to give us any result in regard to his call for the special investigation of Freddie Hill and “No Foul Play!”

Was there an investigation, or did Hough lie again?

Hough has not explained to the public about election irregularity in Gilmer County under his watch!

Hough has not done anything about the missing and then re-appearing properties during the previous Gilmer County Clerk’s term, where two Gilmer County Commissioners admit to the wrongdoing and call it a simple mistake. Hough did this to cover up a crime. It is not simple mistake when the missing property was part of a felony trial that Hough brought that was false. It is ABSURD to call the matter a simple mistake and actionable.

Hough tells the police officials to stretch and delay complaints of wrongdoing as long as they can.  Is this the type of man you would call “good” and “just”?


As for Our Local Newspaper Editor:


Apparently, the editor is desperate to fill space and sell his paper.  Fortunately, The Gilmer Free Press has become the number one source for articles and ideas for local newspaper to copy (Even by Democrat’s own Survey - Below).  How does a newspaper get free County-Wide Broadband service while taxpayers cannot?  Simply lie to the readers about broadband coverage and advertise it in the newspaper.

Has Mr. Corcoran become a liability to the community instead of an asset?




To Gerald B Hough and Dave Corcoran, stop your false rhetoric and get your facts straight:



And Finally:

The Gilmer Free Press is just the messenger of citizens. The citizens have been able to express their opinions here where they could not do it before in this county. GFP requires and knows the identity of all the authors. Some remain Anonymous from fear of retribution from people who are in power and have the abusive power to make life miserable for them.

A good example of this abusive power was demonstrated just recently by Gerry Hough!

Hough is abusing his power by threats, and then threatens any person with jail that brings out the truth of wrongdoing through evidence—as was just witnessed when he was found to be guilty of subornation of perjury.

Hough was proven guilty of perjury via a title opinion which is a valid court document and by all rights Hough should have gone to jail for conspiracy.


Message to Mr. Hough….

You see Mr. Hough, if you just read the WV Department of Education OEPA report, you can easily see, all the citizens comments in relation to the educational system issues, have come true and are verified. As for the rest of the issues, the time is coming. So please quit using your position to threaten and create hardship for the citizens of Gilmer County as you have been known to do in the past. Clearly, the citizens are unhappy you are in office, because you have proven to be a dishonest man that can’t be trusted.

Gilmer County Citizens are NOT stupid! So don’t try to feed them lies!!

We are SICK of your lies and false allegations Mr. Hough!

I would like to invite you, on behalf of the citizens of Gilmer County, to a public forum with all expenses paid by the Gilmer Free Press, so you can tell the community your side publicly and they can ask their questions and get answers in a civil manner. Their tax dollars are paying you, and you owe it to them. It is time to make some changes, and one of those changes should be GERALD B HOUGH.

Please let us know and we can make all the arrangements.  Thank you

G. Dave Ramezan
The Gilmer Free Press
Ramco Technologies

PS. Mr. Hough you DO NOT have permission to copy or quote this information and publish it on your Retort of the Ghost Wolf site nor does Mr. Corcoran have permission to use it in his newspaper.


G-EC: The Gilmer Free Press Submission Policy


In the spirit of a TRUE DEMOCRACY, The Gilmer Free Press DOES list submissions as Anonymous.

Based on hundreds of correspondence to The Gilmer Free Press stating concerns about the existing community political atmosphere, we feel it is important to do this as a service to our readers and for greater good of our community.

Citizens have shown concern and are afraid of possible retaliation to them and or their family members if and when they express their true opinion.

We feel it is so sad, especially in a little piece of this Great America, that these feelings have been created in our community whether it is true or not.

It is not a good idea to create any more obstacles for the taxpaying citizens than already exists.

There has also been a BIG FAILURE to inform our citizens by local media by catering specific groups and we feel everyone needs to work hard to change this.

Additionally, when community leaders fail to answer the community concerns and respond to their questions openly, they are absolutely not helping the cause. They are actually making matters worse.

In order for a submission to be posted anonymously, The Gilmer Free Press DOES require, the name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address, if any, from the authors.

This information will not be published and will be kept confidential by The Gilmer Free Press.

All the conditions set forth in The Gilmer Free Press’ Site Policy always apply.

We find it strange that the very people who complain about anonymous listings are the ones who refuse to give The Gilmer Free Press their true names, and e-mail addresses.

Again, providing fake information keeps your opinion / comment from publishing. Therefore, please do not waste your time sending us comments if we cannot verify you.

The Gilmer Free Press activates ALL Comments if they are verifiable.

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